Startup Weekend Food Edition NYC

    Friday, October 10 - 12, 2014

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend Food Edition NYC

Friday, October 10 - 12, 2014

Friday, October 10 - 12, 2014
Event starts at 6:30 pm

16 West 22nd Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10010

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The first ever Startup Weekend Food Edition in North America is coming to New York City!

For press inquiries, please email

For the first time ever, we're hosting a Startup Weekend focused on the food industry! The startup movement has accelerated growth in many New York industries, but events centering around food have been few and far between; those trying to bridge the industry problems and creative people to develop innovative solutions are even less frequent. Our goal for this event is to connect people who are passionate and want to tackle the tough challenges in the food industry, all while learning-by-doing, firsthand, what makes a business successful.

Q. Do I have to be a technical person to participate?
A. It's a common misconception that to participate in a Startup Weekend, you need to be a developer or have a technical background. This is not true at all! Startup Weekend, first and foremost, is about learning what it takes to build a successful business. Sometimes a business will hinge on a particular technology, but as long as you're passionate about solving a problem or helping other people work on innovative solutions, this event is for you!

Q. Does my idea have to be based on some technology?
A. This event is not strictly tech-focused: if you have a compelling idea that involves actual product or space, feel free to work on that! Remember that you'll be judged on the same criteria as other teams in terms of business models and customer validation, though, so make sure your demo ends up being just as compelling!

Q. Does my idea have to involve the food industry?
A. This is a tricky question to answer. This Startup Weekend's focus is on solutions that involve the food space, but sometimes, those solutions can cross into verticals like health and wellness. Off the top of our heads, we're going to say that anything that involves improving supply chain/logistics/production, access, or the restaurant/food industry (e.g. business-oriented) is definitely OK. On the other end of the spectrum, something like purely a dieting app falls more strictly into the health/wellness realm, and would be outside the scope of this event. If you're not sure about whether your idea would fit into the theme, feel free to shoot the organizers an email at for clarification.

Q. This all sounds great, but I really have no experience in being an entrepreneur or the startup space. Is this still right for me?
A. Participating in a Startup Weekend is one of the best ways to get your feet wet in the startup space. We'll give you the tools and provide you an excellent foundation for getting your idea off the ground and on the road to becoming a pitchable business, through a solid structure, great mentors, and industry-leading judges. We're also doing a special panel/workshop intended as a soft introduction to starting a business, geared toward newbies, so stay tuned for more information!


A little bit more about Startup Weekend:

The nonprofit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Fredericksburg to Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend-long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies. 

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. 

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a co-founder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic, but fun, world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!

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Friday October 10th

6:30 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

7:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

7:20 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:40 pm
Line up to give your pitch, if you have one!

9:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

10:00 pm
Begin Work
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Saturday October 11th

9:00 am
Doors Open and Breakfast
Arrive, breakfast & coffee

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

2:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

4:00 pm
Cajun Food with Cajun in the City
A special Cajun food preparation demo of sausage, rice, and beans hosted by Cajun Ken of Cajun in the City fame.

6:30 pm

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Sunday October 12th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

3:00 pm
Froyo Hour
Froyo sponsored by 16 Handles!

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:00 pm

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:00 pm

9:00 pm
Go Home!


Alison Cayne
Founder of Haven's Kitchen

While working towards a Masters in Food Studies in the fall of 2010, Alison imagined a food community where people could learn about, prepare, and share delicious food that sustains people, our environment, and our local economy. Her hope was to build a business that educates people, and in doing so, increases the demand for locally and sustainably grown produce. This demand would ideally help small and mid-sized farmers make a good living, grow more food, and feed more people.

Upon finding our carriage house, two blocks away from the Union Square Greenmarket, Ali knew it was the perfect space to build the dream -- a true haven of sustainable eating.

    Event Judges

    Brian Bordainick
    Chief Executive Officer of Dinner Labs

    Brian Bordainick has served as Chief Executive Officer of Dinner Lab since January 2012. He started his career in education through Teach for America, teaching 11th and 12th grade at Carver High School in New Orleans. Brian then founded the 9th Ward Field of Dreams to support the construction of a state-of-the-art football field and track on Carver’s campus in the upper 9th ward. The organization raised over $1.8M in less than two years. After that, he worked for the Mayor of New Orleans transitioning the recreation department of 102 employees out of City Hall to a public/private partnership, and most recently he ran the Investment Portfolio for 4.0 Schools, a non-profit that invests in early stage ideas in education. He was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 (2012) list and holds a B.A. in History from the University of Georgia.

    Will Horowitz
    Executive Chef & Owner of Ducks Eatery

    Will Horowitz, is the executive chef & owner of Ducks Eatery in the East Village, NYC where he specializes in heritage techniques and ingredients with a strong focus on smoked, cured & fermented foods. His New York culinary roots run deep, as grandparents on both sides were restaurant professionals: one a French-trained chef cooking seasonally in Orient point on the tip of Long Island, the other running a traditional Jewish Delicatessen in Harlem. Will attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado for Tibetan Buddhism & eco-sustainability. Where he spent extensive time studying off-the-grid living, permaculture and primitive survival. He began pursuing his professional cooking career at The Culinary School of the Rockies and Johnson & Wales. Since then, Will has studied and cooked cuisines throughout the United States, Nepal, and Southeast Asia. A big believer of using the local terroir as inspiration, he is an avid forager, fisherman and naturalist.

    David Goldberg
    Director, Venture Capital at Corigin Ventures

     David Goldberg is a Director at Corigin Ventures, a NYC-based provider of capital and support to early-stage tech-enabled companies. Corigin Ventures invests in inspirational teams tackling high-growth markets across all sectors including consumer, mobile, real estate tech, and the on-demand economy. Some prior investments include Lending Club, Urban Compass, Zeel, Transfix, and Poshly.  Prior to joining Corigin, David founded and led, a men’s accessories collaborative consumption platform, through its exit in 2014.

    Jennifer Love
    Serial Entrepreneur, Business Advisor, Speaker & Educator

    Jennifer Love is serial entrepreneur with sales, marketing and business acumen who shows emerging brands and leaders how to build wildly successful product companies through her fast-track education and advisory company, and web show JLoveTV.

    The co-founder and former CEO of NibMor, Jennifer was instrumental in taking the company from a small shared kitchen based start-up, to the prosperous national wholesale chocolate company it is today.

    She believes that the future will be led by leaders and brands that build meaningful relationships, are socially responsible, continuously innovate, and focus on sustainable profitability.

    As an active partner and adviser, Jennifer recently joined the founders of Loliware, an award-winning biodegr(edible) cup and packaging company that is garnering unprecedented press for its innovation and environmental consciousness.

    Coaches and Mentors

    Meng He
    Chief Product Officer,

    Meng is Chief Product Officer at, a platform that bridges the gap between your online experience and real world visit. She has led product strategy and design at early and mid-stage startups in e-commerce, social media, travel, security, mobile payments, and dating—one of which appeared on Shark Tank. Recently, Meng was part of a 5-person UX special ops team during the 2014 TED Conference. She graduated as valedictorian from Parsons The New School for Design and hopes to one day have a corgi.

    Serko Artinian
    Founder, NYC Apps

    Serko Artinian is a technologist and filmmaker born in NYC. He founded NYC Apps ( in 2010, which is New York’s most innovative mobile technology community. He is committed to telling stories professionally through motion pictures and photography at serkoart™. serkoart™’s core mission lies in investigating ways to build interactive and intuitive tools which bridge lifeworld experiences, education, and community. Serko was raised in his family’s Armenian Restaurant. That life experience has driven his passion and taste for fine dining and cooking.

    Edlin Choi
    Founder of Eat Tribal

    Edlin has worked in adtech as well as with Lean Startup Machine before starting Eat Tribal to make it dead simple for people to eat healthy.

    Gary Reloj
    Chief Operations Officer

    My name is Gary Reloj and I'm co-founder and COO at SWILL, where I oversee all business functions with a focus towards identifying new sales prospects, establishing strategic partnerships and driving overall business growth. Previously, I was co-founder & CEO of OMG Foodie, an online magazine that features the top restaurants in New York City. Each week, we produce a video feature providing rich insight on where to eat, what to order, with tips on how to enhance the dining experience. Eight of OMG Foodie's video features were named "Video of the Week" by Eater, one of the top food blogs in America.

    Ken Conn
    Host and Executive Producer of Cajun in the City

    Chef Cajun Ken is the host and executive producer of the Network TV show Cajun in the City. Ken's cuisine specialty is Southern and Cajun food. Born and raised in the deep south Ken started his love of Cajun cooking on a Louisiana tug boat in 1993. He moved to NYC 2004 and conducted cooking classes at home that grew into a network cooking show. Cajun in the City airs each week on channel 56 TWC and is airing in all five boroughs and a global network SWIG TV Fall 2014.

    Rachna Govani
    Co-Founder of The Foodstand

    Rachna is the Co-founder and CEO of Foodstand, the mobile hub of good food pioneers sharing how to eat their way to a better food system. Growing up in NJ as the daughter of small business owners, Rachna caught the entrepreneurial bug at an early age, winning her first invention contest at age 5. She went on to co-found a NY Times critically acclaimed dance company, develop products that earned millions in revenue for American Express, and use her experience in consumer behavior change to improve recycling rates throughout the country at Recyclebank.

    Solomon Choi
    Founder and CEO, 16 Handles

    Solomon Choi launched his career in the hospitality industry, while gaining executive experience through his work for Japanese restaurants and a gelato franchise in California where he grew up. His dream has been to create a lifestyle brand that people all over the world would enjoy. Currently, with nearly a decade of experience in his trade, Solomon fills the role of founder and CEO for 16 Handles, a New York City based frozen yogurt franchise with over 40 locations in the U.S. and a deal for 150 stores to be opened in the Middle East over the next 10 years. Solomon has been recognized publicly for his work in the hospitality field. He has appeared on CNBC, FOX Business News, ABC News, The Food Network, Bloomberg TV and in a Chase Ink commercial for that same network. Solomon holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and marketing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

    Terry Hope Romero
    Food Community Manager at Kickstarter

    Terry Hope Romero is the Food Community Manager at Kickstarter, a platform that to date 7.1 million people have pledged $1 billion though, funding over 71,000 creative projects which have included food technology, restaurants, small batch food companies, farms, food publications, and many more. Terry has also authored several best-selling vegan cookbooks including Salad Samurai and Veganomicon, and has presented at food festivals and conferences all over the world.

    Stephanie Quilao
    Founder, Chief Storyteller of Vibrantly

    Stephanie Quilao is food system hacker, Eat Real Food advocate, and Silicon Valley based food tech mobile startup entrepreneur. Vibrantly was the overall winner of the 2013 San Francisco Food Hackathon and was launched in the iTunes store in October 2013. She has published three healthy living and food mobile apps, iOS and web-based, in the Apple, Google, and Microsoft stores.

    Stephanie is also an iPhone food photographer and top Eat Real Food blogger behind and now on the Vibrantly blog. She co-authors the Eat Real Food G+ Page with 850K Followers. Her blog blog work has appeared in iVillage Diet and Health, Livestrong, AOL Diet & Fitness, FOX News Health, USA Today, and Reuters. As a blogger, she has worked with and has been featured on social networks by top food brands including Whole Foods Market, Fresh and Easy, Quaker Oatmeal, Beyond Meat, So Delicious, and Udi's Gluten-free.

    Andrey Ayrapetov
    Partner & Director of R&D at MetaBrand, LLC

    Andrey has over 9 years of experience in the food & beverage Industry specializing in novel and emerging technologies, natural ingredients and processes and natural foods startup operations. Currently running R&D at Metabrand, Andrey was previously the head of Operations and R&D for World Waters - developing, launching and executing operations for their flagship product WTRMLN WTR. Andrey Currently remains a partner at WTRMLN WTR and leads new initiatives & product developments.

    He founded East Breuckelen Trading company, offering consulting services in food & beverage formulation as well as market and operations strategy working with several natural and organic focused brands.

    Nadja Blagojevic
    Director of Content and Communications at Reserve

    I'm an experienced communicator with strong attention to detail and coaching skills. I excel at crafting stories -- finding, organizing and clearly presenting relevant information and helping others to do so. From startups to major companies (most recently Google), I've helped coach executives and engineers on how to make their messages and presentations persuasive, effective and memorable. 

    Maria Perez
    Product Manager and Founder

    Maria Perez earned her BFA at London College of Communication, UK. Her experience has included corporate Web Development Manager positions with several successful internet ventures. During the past 10 years she has gained a deep knowledge on Product Analysis, Web Design, Wireframe, UI/UX. As a natural team leader, she is lately specializing in startup clients as a Digital Product Manager, helping them make ideas real. Her experience includes working with,,, The O2, and New York City Agency.

    Ernie Molina
    VP of Sales for Lola Granola Bar

    Ernie Molina is the sales force behind Lola Granola Bar with twelve years experience in the wholesale food industry selling to independent food stores in the northeast with annual sales of $8MM along with retail food experience from the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company and Organic Grocery Retail Consulting. Ernie is not limited to the food industry. He also has work related experience in the management of manufacturing businesses with ISO certification and owned/operated retail stores. Ernie will continue to lead sales efforts to increase distribution of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), and grow the company’s retail presence through food service.

    Event Sponsors, and Partners

    The Startup Weekend Food Edition NYC team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
    Learn how to become a sponsor here.

    Signature Sponsors

    Never forget a restaurant again. With Matchbook you can create your go-to list of restaurants and bars. Keep tabs on them all. Save, tag, and curate everything, whether it’s a new place you’re dying to try or an old favorite you want to remember—it's all at the ready.

    Visit Website




    Organizing Team

    Techstars Startup Weekend New York City is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
    Learn how to get involved here

    • Valerie
    • Sara
    • Kenny
    • Andrew
    • Michelle
    • Simran
    • Jenna
    • Amanda
    • Doe Youn
    • Drew
    • Dimitris


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